on June 7, 2011
First of all, I love music. I love expensive toys that play music. And, I have a critical ear. Additionally, I'm pairing with an HTC Thunderbolt. And, I was looking for something portable that I could easily pair with my phone to enjoy surfing the web, streaming music and watching videos anywhere from my bedroom to the beach. And, I wanted to do all of that wirelessly.
I was fearful of a bad experience with my Thunderbolt. I had read that many people had poor experiences with HTC's Bluetooth stack and pairing with various devices. So, when I made the order, I was taking a certain leap of faith.
It took about 60 seconds to pair the Monster ClarityHD speaker to my phone. Music was up and running another 5 seconds later. And, WOW, was I surprised!
Don't get me wrong, this is still an "inexpensive" and small speaker. I'm not expecting, nor receiveing, a Bang & Olufsen experience here. But, given what I was expecting from something this small, wireless and portable, the sound quality and volume from this speaker is remarkable. Not only does it have bass, it also sounds very clear.
The weakness is the high end of the sound spectrum. In order to really enjoy the "highs," you need to have the speaker pointed right at your ears. But, even with that small weakness, the sound truly is remarkable.
Not only does it sound good, it's wireless. The fear about Bluetooth I had was unnecessary. The sound is clean and clear. And, I was able to walk at least 30 feat away, staying in line-of-sight, before I experienced any lag or popping.
A quick comment about watching videos with bluetooth. Bluetooth will have a barely noticeable delay. So, when you are watching videos, you will likely notice the sound is barely behind the video. No way around it. But, after watching several videos and movies, I stopped noticing it as much.
Additionally, the internal battery is very convenient. The speaker can be completely untethered while producing great sound. And, after around 5 hours of use, you can simply plug the included mini USB cable into a laptop or an Apple adapter and charge it back to full strength.
The next feature really blew me away. While I was listening to music, my dad called. I simply answered the phone and talked with him for about 5 minutes. When we were finishing, I asked him about the call quality and revealed I had been talking with him through this speaker the whole time. He commented to me that it sounded to him as though I had my phone right up to my mouth. I was sitting on my bed about 3 feet away from the speaker. He couldn't believe the call quality.
Additionally, the speaker comes with a nice soft carrying case. I suppose it would keep the chrome-looking reflective top from getting scratched during its "portable" adventures.
If I had one final gripe, and this is mostly with the Thunderbolt, it's that it's a little bit of a pain to switch from being paired with the Monster ClarityHD and being paired with my Plantronics bluetooth headset. So, I'm keeping an eye out in the Android market for a cool bluetooth toogle app of some kind. (Edit - added Bluetooth Setting icon that takes me directly to Bluetooth settings. It allows me to easily toggle between my Monster ClarityHD and my Plantronics bluetooth headset.)
Ok, I lied, I have one more...observation. The blue/red lights that indicate power/connectivity/pairing mode/etc. are very bright. If you plan on keeping the speaker in your room at night, it will illuminate your room like a night light. If that works for you, great. If not, you'll need to consider that when keeping the speaker turned on and/or charging.
Overall, I couldn't be more pleased with this tiny powerhouse. It was everything I'd hoped for...and more!
UPDATE - I've owned the speaker for a few weeks now, and continue to be impressed. Everyone I've shown this little speaker to wants one. I took the speaker with me to a friend's house in another state. While there, we paired the speaker to her iPad and watched movies and other media. She enjoyed the flexibility, portability and sound quality so much...I ended up having to buy one for her, too!...and one for my dad on father's day...and one for my mom because she was jealous of my dad's gift...you can see where I'm going with this...
If you're using this speaker in conjunction with a cell phone, I HIGHLY recommend installing an app with an EQ. When listening to music with an adjustable EQ through this speaker, the Monster ClarityHD is even more amazing than before. Bass is more solid, treble is crisper and more pronounced. As amazed as I was when I first unboxed this speaker, having it play music through an EQ knocked me out.
on June 15, 2011
After much reviewing and comparing I settled for these little Monster speakers over the Jawbone Jambox. I've heard the Jambox in person and was impressed by the sound but the $200 (+/- $50 in some places) was just a tad bit too steep for me.
So without even hearing the Monsters in person I took a gamble and ordered it anyways, worst case scenario I'd just returned them if I didn't like 'em... and like 'em I did. It does everything the Jambox does but at less cost (think about $120 less). with that all said here goes the skinny:
The unit is compact enough to fit in your bag (purse?) without much sacrifice to space, it's small enough to fit in the palm of my hand and is fairly light; about the weight of a good sized smartphone. I really like this cause I've carried it or tucked it in my sweatshirt pocket when I go running with my buddy, since it's so light I really don't notice it bouncing around much when I run. Best part is the bluetooth, I have it synced to my phone playing music AND my Google tracks which ever so nicely provides updates in my routine with data and resumes playing the tunes over the speakers.
Which brings me to my next point... the bluetooth, it works great. The conference mode sounds clear on both ends ( I assume the receiving end is fine since I've yet to hear any gripes, but then again we all know what happens when we assume?). Bluetooth range is ok, about 20ft line of sight in my experience and the signal is clear with very few clips in the transmission, but I have noticed more clips while streaming Pandora. I'm inclined to believe its more a problem with my phone's signal than the bluetooth performance as the connection is near flawless while listening to my phone's mp3 player.
Fit and finish? The case is pretty good I think. The plastic housing is light with two small speakers upfront, it feels solid so it doesn't flex, and it has a nice dark chrome hood on top to cover the small passive sub-woofer below. There are four small grippy pads beneath the unit to keep it stable on smooth surfaces, but they're not so effective on my car's dash board. The buttons on the side I'd say are the weakest point of the unit, they wiggle slightly with some play and require some, but not much, effort to press. I do like the fact that you can control your phone from the unit to receive calls and advance music tracks, and yes folks you can advance music tracks via the speakers while streaming Pandora. :D Oh, and the batteries last about 5 hours, can't say the same for my phone's though. :P
Sound Quality: I'll stop short of saying that they'll blow your home theater system out of the water, BUT they do sound great. They cover a fairly good range in the noise spectrum save for the lowest of bass notes. On that note (sorry, bad pun), the speakers carry a richer bass tones with minimal distortion than ANY of the cheaper smaller crap speakers I've heard. In short, they're not earth thumpers but the bass is there and with little or no distortion. The mids and highs are represented very faithfully never missing a beat. I really feel these speakers are more suited for Rock and Blues as opposed to Drum&Bass, Break Beats, and/or other forms of Dance (No word on Rap or Hip Hop, sorry not my genre). In comparison and the sound quality isn't MUCH different than the Jambox any ways.
So who should get the HDclarity speaker system? If you want a simple but clear hands free bluetooth speaker for driving in your car I'd say go for it, because anything that will help a person keep BOTH hands on the steering wheel is a GOOD thing, and as a bonus it doubles for a great mobile speaker system too. They're great for the workshop, the beach, cubicle (more like crucible), social gatherings , anti-social gatherings, libraries (...don't, just don't), impressing your friends, and any situation in which you may find yourself with the sudden need for some tunes to grind to. They're awesome, buy two.
on April 10, 2012
I've been a home stereo aficionado since my teenage years, so I have very high & critical standards when it comes to my home audio systems that I purchase & covet. Also, as an electrical engineer in the Aerospace/Defense Industry, I know a good & efficient electronic design from an inferior one, especially when it comes to state-of-the-art solid state analog/digital & AC/DC signal switching amplifiers & power supplies.
Anyways, my next audio speaker purchase was for a small compact highly portable Bluetooth or Wireless Speaker for my new HP Pavillion DV7 Laptop Computer. The requirement was three-fold, first, it had to produce great clear sonic quality for its size, secondly, that it's small enough to be easily packed into my Laptop Carrying Case, & lastly, that if falls within my budgetary window (< $150). After about a month of personal in depth research, hands-on audio testing & inspecting features & specifications of the many & various Wireless/Bluetooth Speakers & Speaker Docks at the local dept., home entertainment, discount, & electronics stores, as well as online, it all had finally lead me to, the decision to purchase the Monster ClairityHD!!! Note, I could have purchased speakers above the $150 price point, but they would have either been a little too large for my requirement, &/or that the differential in the sound quality was not great enough to warrant purchasing it, especially when Monster ClarityHD was 1/3 to 1/2 the cost of the others.
With the unique & good fortune of being able obtain schematics for the Monster ClarityHD, prior to my purchasing it, upon close inspection, my professional evaluation of the electronic circuit design of this particular model, based on a 10 Point Commercial Scale, I would have to give it a Total Overall Score of 9. In comparison to others where I have had the opportunity to check their schematics as well, most of them had overall scores of 7 & 8s. The amplifier section, feedback & filter networks, is definitely superior to others in its class, & for its signal processing efficiency & higher wattage gain. Where I see its only weakness, is that DC Circuits does not do enough to protect the Bluetooth Chip Module from being exposed to a possible higher current gain. In other words, the Bluetooth Circuit could fry if one were to use a USB AC/DC Fast Charger that is rated greater than 3Watts. The Standard Output for most USB Chargers is spec'd at 5Vdc & 500ma (1/2Amp), in wattage terms, this is a 2.5Watt Charger. If you accidently happen to use a Fast USB Charger that is rated at 5Watts [5vdc & 1000ma (1Amp)], this will fry the Bluetooth Circuit & making it inoperable in short order, with the exception of the continued functionality of the Audio In Port. Obviously, this means you should only use your Standard Typical 120Vac/5Vdc, 2.5Watt Chargers, NOT any of the Fast Chargers rated above 3Watts.
Please Note, upon my investigation of other similar & comparable Bluetooth & Wireless Speaker units, via their schematics, it appears that a great many of them, existing & new, also have the same deficiency in design for accommodating FAST CHARGING CAPABILITY. This particular feature is usually found on more higher priced & expensive units.
The other unknown factor, that will definitely have an impact on the operational reliability & durability of the Bluetooth Speaker, is the consistent quality & purity of the electronic components & materials that are used within the system or device. The high reputation & standards of any particular manufacturer, domestic or overseas, will be the predictor of the product's reliability & durability (i.e. Sony Japan Manuf. vs. Sony China Manuf.), & of course, in the short/long run, have a direct impact on Customer Satisfaction & Repeat Customers!
OK, enough with the prologue, let's get back to my own personal situation. When I first received the product by UPS, I had eagerly unpackaged the Monster ClarityHD from its box. My initial reaction to it was, how small & compact it truly was! It could fit right in the palm of my hand.
As I closely inspected the physical features of the compact Bluetooth Speaker, this is what I had discovered in my investigation:
* 3-Rectangular LEDs (2-Blue indicates Power, 1-RED/2-BLUE Flashes when in Bluetooth Handshake Mode)
* 2-35mm (1-3/8") Full Range Long Throw Speakers
* Mini-Omnidirectional Condenser Microphone (To Take Calls via Speaker Phone)
* Smoked-Mirrored Metal Top with Passive Radiator Bass Port Underneath (~1/4" Circumference Edge Gap)
* Secondary ON/OFF Power Button & Phone Call Pick Up Button
* Volume Up/Down Buttons
* Next Track Forward/Reverse Buttons
* Master ON/OFF Power Slide Switch
* Mini-B USB DC Charger Port
* 3.5mm (1/8") Audio In Stereo Port (For iPod, MP3 Player, & other Audio Devices)
* 4-3/8" Non-Skid Black Rubber Foot Pads
* Faux Black Velvet Draw String Pouch (to carry Monster ClarityHD)
* Mini-B/USB, 5Vdc, 6' Charging Cable
* User's Manual/Warranty Info
I expeditiously perused the User's Manual to discover how to get the device into Bluetooth Handshake Mode (Pairing). As a first time newbie owner of an Apple Product, in this case an Apple iPod Touch 4G, I was able to quickly & easily make the connection to the Monster ClarityHD. I cranked up the Volume on the Speaker to its maximum setting, & set Slide Volume to 3/4 Max on the iPod Touch.
All of my music on the Apple iPod Touch are in the MP3 format, 320Kbps bit rate. So, when I played my first tune that was little heavy on bass, via Bluetooth, I was simply taken aback & was wowed on how loud & how clear the music sounded from this little compact unit.
IT SIMPLY BROUGHT A BIG SMILE TO MY EARS & EYES! ESPECIALLY WHEN I CRANKED THE SLIDE VOLUME ON THE IPOD TOUCH TO MAXIMUM...NO DISTORTION TO THE MUSIC...NADA!!!
As I played various types & styles of music, from classical, folk, country, pop, hard rock, & everything in between, I just became more intrigued & enamored with how well this ultra-compact unit with 1-3/8" long throw speakers drivers perform (if short throw speakers were utilized - it would entail less audio range). Overall, the sonic quality was superbly clear & very well defined, it had great vocals, above average mid/treble-range for instrumentals, somewhat noticeable bass (with a little thump), & absolutely no distortion & mushiness at maximum volume! The latter feature is a great testament of a superior amplifier design, when it is set to its maximum volume level, there still some more volume headroom before it distorts. This is very much UNLIKE how so many OTHER Amplified Speakers Perform & are Designed...ALWAYS WITH AUDIO DISTORTION AT or NEAR MAXIMUM VOLUME!
THIS IS THE BEST I'VE HEARD FOR THIS CLASS & SIZE OF AMPLIFIED SPEAKERS, PERIOD!! Of course, this is all viewed under the common sense & fair notion of Relative Equalibrium Perspective. In other words, comparing apples to apples (similar in size/class of speakers, i.e. 1-3/8" compared to 1-1/2"), as opposed to apples to oranges (larger differential in size/class of speakers, i.e. 1-3/8" compared to 3"). Because of its Exceptional Volume & Clarity Capability, the Monster ClarityHD could also be optimally utilized in a INDOOR PARTY Setting at home or office. If the unit is properly placed & positioned, such as in the corner of a room & placed at or above head level, you can readily take advantage of the Acoustic Enhancements (especially bass, & bigger/fuller sound) & Range (less obstacles, like human bodies & furniture, so that sound waves can freely & dopplerly propagate).
The Speaker Phone feature works very well too. When using it in conjunction with my Cell Phone, via Bluetooth, I was able to take several calls via Speaker Phone on the Monster ClarityHD, & the music was automatically muted when I took the call, & then automatically resumed after I had hung-up. Again, I was somewhat surprised on the sound quality & clarity that came from the speaker, as well as how the callers remarked that they didn't realize that they were speaking to me via speaker phone.
Well, Folks & Audio Files, PLEASE PARDON ME for this somewhat long-winded monologue, I simply had a lot to share, but whatever case, I do hope that this was informative & clarifying to you, especially if you are seriously considering in purchasing the Monster ClarityHD?
AS FOR ME, I WOULD GIVE IT A HIGHLY & HARDY RECOMMENDATION - TWO THUMBS UP!!! THE APPARENT WORD "CLARITY" AS IN THE MODEL DESCRIPTION "MONSTER CLARITYHD", IS SO APTLY NAMED!